Body image may simply be defined as “a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others. ” according to Mirriam-Webster. The media has a profound effect on women’s ideas of their body image, and the media’s depiction of an “average” woman, most definitely contributes to the growing number of eating disorders, depression, and numerous problems related to the false portrayals of the average woman. As expected, women are taking action to obtain the perfect and incredibly desirable body.
Modern day America can be described as an image crazed nation with the average woman spending over 15,000 dollars in her lifetime just on cosmetic supplies. Americans also spent eleven-billion dollars on cosmetic procedures alone in 2012. Americans also spend 42 billion- dollars annually on dieting and weight loss products. But what effect does the mass media have on these staggering facts? According to Dr. Kasey L. Serdar, “Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are presented in almost all forms of popular media, barraging women with images that portray the ‘ideal body’.
In simpler terms, this means media sources dictate the standards of beauty and in turn they create an unachievable beauty by portraying an unachievable thing, the female body image they distort, as achievable . The media’s influence does affect society’s opinions and definitions of the ideal body because of the industry’s body and beauty standards. “Many women in the United States feel pressured to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image. Women are constantly bombarded with “Barbie Doll-like” images” says Women’s Health.
The media has never seen such a high volume of viewers/consumers of their material, and that can be directly correlated to the easy access in today’s technology driven society. The media depicts women with unobtainable and obviously distorted qualities not found in the average woman. What exactly does the ideal body image encompass? Mirror-Mirror, an eating disorder website, suggests “the ideal image of a woman includes blonde hair, tan skin and big breasts. Of course, she should be young and somewhat athletic. She should not have any physical disabilities.
It doesn’t matter too much if she has brains, as long as she possesses a physically attractive figure. ” The media continues to portray women in an unrealistic way by photo shopping and editing pictures to absolute perfection. Magazines, perhaps the vainest sector of the media, plaster pretty and perfect women on their covers. These images give purpose by attracting a curious audience, mostly teen and young women, to buy the magazine with hopes the dieting and beauty tips found inside will help them achieve the perfect body or aesthetic qualities found on the cover.
One of the main strategies used to reinforce and normalize a distorted idea of “average” is media’s representation of women as extremely thin (meaning much thinner than the actual population or what is physically possible for the vast majority of women) – either by consistent use of models and actresses that are underweight or extremely thin, or by making the models and actresses fit their idea of ideal thinness and beauty through digital manipulation both on screen through computer-generated imagery” said Bradmin, on a beauty website’s blog.
The media does not show the ugly side to the modeling industry, giving young women and girls false impressions of a healthy lifestyle, and the real meaning of beauty. Many fashion shows and companies have come under fire recently for employing anorexic models that starve themselves to the point of malnourishment . Women remain the main consumer of dietary products and programs. “Up to 50 percent of women participating in a dieting program at any given time. ” according to Judy Mahle Lutter in her book “The Body wise Woman.
The fact that many women and girls do not like their bodies can be seen by a number of things: dieting statistics, number of dieting programs, amount gym memberships, cosmetic industry’s revenue, eating disorder rates, and even suicide rates. “One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls feel “unhappy with their bodies. ” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. ” reports Teen Health and Media. The media has the most influence on the youth of society. Recent studies have shown that teen depression rates are at an all-time high, many find themselves feeling not good enough, and they feel “worthless”.
Some studies have linked teen suicides to unhappiness with their bodies. “Suicidal impulses and attempts are much more common in teenagers who think they are too fat or too thin, regardless of how much they actually weigh, a study found. ” reports CBS News. Teenagers are seeing these images plastered by the media, not realizing the images they see are unrealistic. An encouragement and educational website, Just Say Yes, says that “Teens are barraged with a constant stream of media and peer pressures related to body image.
The media tells them their value is based on their outward appearance. ” The media may not intend for this to happen, however it has been proven that they do have heavy influence on the millennials. Their only intentions might be advertising a product or to entertain, no matter what they truly intend to do, the media sells more than a product in doing so. As the media continues to mislead women on the “average” body should look like, society can only expect an increased rate of negative side effects as a result.